16 often-overlooked steps in building an effective marketing campaign

Developing a great product or service is only the first step in bringing the world to your business’s door. The second, equally important step is getting the message out to potential customers about what you have to offer and helping them understand how it will make a positive difference for them.

The Business Journals

It’s easy to get caught up in your own enthusiasm about your offerings, but that’s not enough. You have to consider the perspective of your target audience and craft a campaign that really speaks to them. Here, 16 members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share important steps businesses often overlook when they’re crafting a marketing campaign and why they’re so essential to success.

1. Seeking the opinions of multiple stakeholders.
It’s smart to start with brand discovery by answering critical questions. What are the product’s or service’s attributes? What is the value proposition it offers? What does success look like? What are competitors doing? What might get in the way of our success? Seek the opinions of different stakeholders — not just the marketing team — to gain diverse perspectives that better inform the campaign. – Hinda Mitchell, Inspire PR Group

2. Considering who you’re helping, and why
Marketing campaigns have to be about your customer and how you’re going to relieve their pain points. Marketing is no longer about what we do as businesses. Don’t overlook who you are helping, and why. – Tiffany Wallace, Dagen Personnel, LLC

3. Developing a comprehensive buyer persona
Develop a comprehensive customer avatar — aka a buyer persona — to develop marketing that truly connects. A customer avatar humanizes your ideal buyer by going far beyond demographics and including psychographic traits, such as values, goals, lifestyle, pain points and so on. By aiming for one customer, you can successfully reach many more. Be sure to build your customer avatar using research and data. – Lincoln Jacobe, 6 Pillars Marketing

4. Collecting a range of customer testimonials
Businesses often overlook consumer testimonials. They are the authentic voice of users of your product or service. Testimonials bring a user experience to life. They are more reliable and trusted than a company bragging and give the potential buyer insight from a variety of “real-life” perspectives. – Aviva Ajmera, SoLVE KC

5. Developing a clear and concise message
Before launching any marketing campaign, it’s important to take the time to develop a clear and concise message. Every aspect of the campaign, from the tagline to the visuals, should work together to reinforce the central message. By developing a strong message up front, businesses can increase their chances of success and avoid wasted effort. – Adam Toren, RaisingEmpoweredKids.com

6. Conversing with potential customers
When creating marketing campaigns, many businesses overlook the conversations with potential customers that need to happen throughout the development cycle. Create a feedback loop: Take your offering early and often to customers for input. When you learn your market’s pain points and needs during development, your offering — and therefore your marketing campaign — will resonate with your customers. – Daniel Serfaty, Aptima, Inc.

7. Establishing a brand narrative
Establish a brand narrative and ask the basic questions about why you exist, why people should care and what problem you solve. Companies should be able to easily answer why they should be trusted by their customers, industry, investors and their own employees. This allows them to cut through the clutter and approach their goals with a full package of products and purposes. – Kathleen Lucente, Red Fan Communications

8. Maintaining ‘always-on’ content marketing
The “always-on” campaign of great content marketing makes every one-time campaign more effective. If people already associate your brand with a solution to their problem(s), it makes a campaign focused on a specific product or service feel less like marketing and more like another way to engage with a trusted thought partner. – Andrea Fryrear, AgileSherpas

9. Understanding the customer’s journey
Experience mapping is a critical step in building an effective marketing campaign that’s often overlooked. Work to understand the customer’s journey by watching their behavior, listening to their stories and learning from their data. By putting yourself in the shoes of the customer, you gain vital insight into the moments that matter most in their relationship with your brand. – Ethan Whitehill, Crux KC

10. Planning fresh, modern sales materials
Marketing collateral is often overlooked. These assets are ideal for increasing brand awareness and providing information about your products or services. In our marketing plan, we plan out sales materials with fresh stats, stories and a modern design. This helps us stay ahead of the competition and generate more leads using sales collateral. We know that it’s a critical component of business growth and sales success. – Scott Scully, Abstrakt Marketing Group

11. Building a strong email list to nurture leads
Something that’s often overlooked is building a strong email list — every single time. I have spoken to an immeasurable number of prospects over the years who, when asked about the size of their email list, just stare back blankly. Building and using an email list will enable you to nurture your leads and convert them along the way. – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency

12. Sending direct mail to engaged leads
Direct mail is effective. To maximize its value, mail to engaged leads, not all leads. Engaged leads interact with emails, talk to sales or make multiple visits to your website. Direct mail is effective because we get less mail than email, so it stands out more. Mail also has a longer “shelf life.” Studies show recipients keep direct mail for 17 days on average — and that helps you win. – Linda Bishop, Thought Transformation

13. Packaging compelling case studies/success stories
While customer testimonials can provide highly effective validation and social proof, I feel the most persuasive element of a product launch is the packaging of compelling case studies/success stories. Outlining the use case and the resulting impact of your product or service on a business (or consumer) leaves little room for skepticism. – Kent Lewis, Anvil Media, Inc.

14. Conducting in-depth customer research
Customer research is by far one of the most overlooked steps in building a marketing campaign, which often results in a significant gap between what your team puts forth and what the customer actually wants. Its importance is reflected in the effort required to motivate your customers to buy the product. Validate your roadmap constantly with your target customer profile to ensure alignment. – Sanjay Jupudi, Qentelli

15. Being a thought leader in your space
Being a thought leader in your space is a critical component of extending your brand. A consistent showing in written form, where you are fueling discussions and adding to the perspective of leaders, is a powerful way to keep you in front of large audiences. Make sure what you offer is quickly absorbable, easily identifiable, clearly written and compelling, such that the audience wants to read more. – Kimberly Janson, Janson Associates

16. Ensuring outstanding customer service
A great marketing campaign can effectively target your consumer audience, but the key to it all is successfully converting them to a consumer and then fulfilling the product order in a timely manner. Once a customer receives the product, ensure it exceeds their expectations, with the goal of them becoming a lifetime customer and brand ambassador who attracts other customers to your brand through word of mouth. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

14 essential elements of a successful marketing campaign

There’s a lot that goes into creating a successful marketing campaign. Whether you’re building top-of-mind awareness, launching a new product or engaging in a full-on rebranding, effective marketing requires careful planning and research to reach and engage the intended audience.

The Business Journals

At a time when consumer attention spans are limited and the volume of digital content is skyrocketing, advertisers need to find ways to set themselves apart. To help you do this successfully, 14 members of Business Journals Leadership Trust each detail one step many companies skip in their marketing initiatives. Don’t overlook these essential parts of the process as you design your next campaign.

1. Upfront goals
It used to drive me nuts when we’d launch a campaign and then sit around and talk about it afterward with no goals, no timeline and no data points to measure. Basically, we had no idea of what success looked like except volume sales or personal perception — which was often dependent on our current mood. Set three SMART goals and track them so you know if the campaign was a success or a learning experience. – Jalene Kanani, NOHO HOME by Jalene Kanani

2. Established KPIs
Identify your key performance indicators and ensure your marketing efforts are targeted directly to the success of the specific intentions. It is easy to get lost in the weeds, but as long as your guard rails are defined, it is much easier to stay on track. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management

3. A well-defined target buyer
Start by figuring out who your buyer is. Go past titles and get to the nitty-gritty of what buyers care about. Ask yourself what you think they already know about your company and what you sell. List all the questions that need to be answered before the buyer agrees to purchase. You know your buyers better than any agency you hire. Dig in and do the work to help them succeed. – Linda Bishop, Thought Transformation

4. Detailed customer personas
Take time to build customer personas that reflect the traits of the buyer you are targeting. The customer persona should include elements such as income, business size, goals, location, age, hobbies and interests. Creating customer personas can help a company create content to better attract the target audience and achieve the desired outcome. – Shannon Block, Skillful a Markle Initiative

5. An understanding of your customers’ needs
Relate the message to the potential customer’s needs. Marketing isn’t about how great your company is, it’s about how you can help your customers. You may be the best purple widget maker in the world, but if your potential customers don’t know why they need a purple widget, they will never become actual customers. – Christine Durrett, Durrett & Kersting PLLC

6. Awareness of the sales funnel stage
Knowing your target audience and what stage of your sales funnel they are in is important. If you’re targeting a new, cold audience, you have to start at the top of the funnel with a brand-awareness campaign. As your audience becomes more familiar with your product or service, you can nurture them with follow-up campaigns to guide them down the sales funnel. – Brenda Bryan, The Bryan Agency

7. A long-term vision
Only seeking out a “hot” agency or opportunity is short-sighted and likely not focused on ROI and KPIs. Instead, look for long-term results and effectiveness. Ask the right questions to make sure you will have continued future success. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

8. Messaging focused on the end-user
The most critical step companies skip is within the mission of the marketing campaigns they hope to launch. Most companies endeavor to launch campaigns to raise awareness about their products or services, but this is a flawed perspective. Rather than focusing on revenue generation, companies should focus their campaigns on positive benefits for the end-users — on the end users’ return on investment. – Jeff Shuford, National Invest In Veterans Week

9. An alignment of message, values and voice
Map your messages and build out your core values. If a business is not aligned on its voice — or on its values — the marketing campaign will fall flat. Consumers are seeking transparency and understanding not just of what a business does but also of what it stands for. A framework of key messages that are shaped by values helps integrate the marketing effort successfully. – Hinda Mitchell, Inspire PR Group

10. Diverse marketing channels
Companies should take an omnichannel approach to their marketing campaigns for optimal success. A good marketer doesn’t put all their eggs in one basket — they diversify marketing efforts across several channels. – Jeremy Hedrick, DialCare

11. Cross-platform design
One excellent opportunity many companies fail to consider when building marketing campaigns is omnichannel integration. The customer journey is not linear and often takes place across multiple devices. How are you adjusting messages, creative and calls-to-action so customers can move across platforms seamlessly? – Kent Lewis, Anvil Media, Inc.

12. A data analytics team
Behind every successful marketing campaign is a thriving team that leverages data and analytics to make informed decisions. Don’t lose sight of your data insights when planning your next campaign. – Todd Marks, Mindgrub

13. A knowledgeable partner
Hiring a company that really understands your business — and how to leverage that relationship in public relations and social media — is critical. We have found that utilizing LinkedIn for B2B is highly effective. – Jim Jacobi, Parkland Communities, Inc.

14. Close engagement with your marketing agency
We’ve hired a number of marketing firms over the years and have found our degree of engagement to be critical to their success. The idea that you can outsource your marketing to a third party and they are going to somehow work wonders is a pipe dream. Find a firm you can trust and work closely with them to establish your marketing strategy and vision. – Jared Knisley, Fizen Technology

Podcast: A People-First Agency Transformation Strategy

Transforming your agency from a long format agency to one focused on data analytics is a long, involved process.

It takes about 15 years, to be exact.

In this episode, I interview Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, CEO of Hawthorne, a national agency based in Los Angeles.

What we talked about:

– Your employees are your customers, too

– Why agency transformation takes 15 years

– Challenges to transformation

– How to be strategic when implementing change

Tips to Help You Understand and Action Your Advertising Data

Data gives advertisers the power to fine-tune their campaigns and deliver strong results. Industry experts shared their best advice about advertising data, including methods for collecting it, analyzing it, and putting it to use.

From Karla Crawford-Kerr, VP of Marketing, Hawthorne Advertising.

Don’t just collect data, analyze it continuously.

In advertising data science, it’s not enough to report on the past and present. Data without context only states the obvious—what has already happened. Businesses have spent the past few years accumulating massive amounts of data, with 60 percent-73 percent of that data to go unused, according to Forrester. Big and small data collection is clearly not enough. Data-driven decisions require analysis and insight to deliver value and lead to meaningful change.

To get the most out of advertising data science, marketers need to look ahead and focus on how data can help them make better decisions. Marketers must be open-minded and process-oriented in their Advertising Approach Analysis. This means testing, collecting data, evaluating, testing again, and analyzing to really learn from the data and make tweaks and game changing decisions. This process is a continuous circle in advertising. It never stops. To drive results, it’s important to focus on data from start to finish.

Here are seven steps that advertisers can take to optimize their use of data science.

  • Understand Audience and Audience Targeting. This means looking at how and where the target audience is consuming media. It’s critical to be medium agnostic. Do not overlook options like CTV based on perceived cost, as it may be an effective extension of linear or digital.
  • A/B Test. Test everything—messaging, content, and creative.
  • Test the results. Look at the results of campaigns for attribution and impact. See what worked and what didn’t.
  • Make data-driven decisions. Look at the short and long tail of conversions (first touch vs. last touch).
  • Trust your instincts. As a marketer it is important to know when to trust instinct vs. getting bogged down with the data. This could mean calling out false positives or evaluation of results that focus too narrowly on the short term.
  • More testing. Hone your message and creative.
  • Optimize spend and investment.
  • Start again. Understand your audience and audience targeting.


Mitch Larson

Director of Marketing Technology, Titan 47

There are answers for your cross-system attribution questions.

Today’s marketers have a gold mine of data sitting right in front of them that can be turned into insights with even the most basic of technical skills. A mix of Google Tag Manager, marketing channel APIs, and an object-oriented programming language, like Python, can allow you to accomplish even the most complex of tasks—including cross-systems attribution modeling.

Google Analytics has strong attribution capabilities out of the box, however, what if your main KPIs are simple transactions held in Google Analytics? This is a cross-systems attribution problem. You can use Google Tag Manager to create custom dimensions for the Google Analytics client id as well as your product or lead user ids (if applicable). Using Python and the Google Analytics API, you can extract multiple segments at scale into a data warehouse, such as Google BigQuery. From there, data integration can be performed across your Google Analytics data and your database or CRM. Now, you’ll have pre-conversion user data combined with post-conversion customer data for attribution modeling.

Languages like Python are also great for deploying different statistical-based attribution models once your data is integrated. The sky’s the limit when marketing is combined with technical skills and today’s wealth of knowledge online helps marketers jump right in.

Andrew Van Benschoten

Senior Manager, Data Science, Ovative Group

You can base most of your business decisions on simple models.

Start simple.

The data science field has many flashy technologies such as neural networks and reinforcement learning, but the majority of your business questions can be answered with more straightforward approaches.

Linear regression can get you ~70% of the output from a more complex model, and in 1/10th of the time. And in many cases, the added accuracy won’t change your business decision. I’m going to invest in the marketing channel with the highest-ranked ROAS regardless of whether that number is 5 or 5.1. These simpler approaches also have the added benefit of easier interpretability. Your clients may not understand pooling layers or stacking vs. ensembling, but they can understand that a one-dollar change in channel spend leads to a three dollar change in overall revenue.

Throughout this process you might discover that you need a more complex approach to accomplish your business objectives, and that’s ok! Starting simple provides a perfect framework for conducting auxiliary tasks such as exploring the nuances of your data, thinking through appropriate KPIs, and the like. These critical components are often overlooked if you have to spend your time setting up your GPU configuration or debugging a beta-version ML library. At the end of the day, your goal is not to use the latest data science buzzword, but rather to uncover new insights that drive your client to act.

Brandon Turner

Owner, Reedy River Marketing, LLC

Data science can’t account for all the intangibles, so figure out the story behind it.

I think the biggest misconceptions about advertising data science are that the datasets have to be enormous, the algorithms have to be complex, and an advertiser’s background has to be extremely technical to make it work. The truth of the matter is that ADS scales based on the data you have to work with, and most importantly, the client’s objective. A lot of the platforms commonly used for digital marketing for a smaller and medium-sized business are already incorporating the machine-learning aspect on the backend. Smart-bidding capabilities, automated rules, and a variety of different conversion techniques are already taking advantage of the machine-learning aspect concerning user behavior and desired outcome.

The next step is to decide the best way to utilize these types of tests in conjunction with more manual data science techniques. There are only so many inputs we typically give to a platform to execute our campaigns. We simply can’t completely relay the intangibles and the human experience fully into the machine. Even if we could, it wouldn’t think, analyze, or optimize exactly as we do. That is why we need to find the best convergence of both, tested together, to ultimately achieve the client’s goals with all aspects of ADS working together as seamlessly as possible.

Finally, it is also extremely important not to get lost within the data. We have more data than we could ever fully digest in most cases. It is too easy to get caught up in treating the analysis like starting a 5,000 piece puzzle versus a beautiful painting that is just missing the last few strokes to complete it. The data is telling us an amazing story, but far too often we simply don’t listen. At least not actively.

Amandine Dovelos

Search Manager, GroupM Ireland

Capture the data you need to understand the full ecosystem.

This is one of the biggest challenges and is often overlooked: measuring the level of contribution of a channel in the mix to achieve the right trade-offs by efficiently connecting multiple data points. Let’s see how to bring the pieces of the puzzle together and unlock opportunities.

Data Visualization

Data visualization tools are the way to go, as they allow real-time reporting reflecting the maturity of tracking an entire KPI in real-time with a complete vision: based on data-driven models, algorithms and machine learning.

Attribution & Contribution

There is a real awareness on how to use attribution and contribution tools; it is now the norm to value the upstream of the funnel and not only value last-click models. It is demonstrating the necessity of synergies in the wider marketing ecosystems.

Bring That Puzzle Together

Between paid search and TV, the connection is intuitive: the behavior of a TV viewer is predictable and measurable, and the channel cross-synchronization will maximize the impact of TV. But how to prove the efficiencies driven on foot traffic, this is the holy grail that agencies can offer thanks to operational maturity and omnichannel approaches.

Data Limbo

Start using the data that the consumer actively shares with your business—think questionnaires, polls to maximize data capturing capabilities instead of fighting the growing chimeras of a zero-cookie internet.

The Way Through The Forest

Clustering and trainable algorithms can assist to find the true way in your forest of data. This can unlock unimaginable patterns and campaign automation with unprecedented efficiencies.

Reach For The Stars

To conclude, don’t forget to feed the top of the funnel to fill the bottom and start maximizing on the cross-channel synergies by taking advantage of symbiotic ecosystems.

13 Unique Marketing Campaigns And The Valuable Lessons They Teach

One of the hallmarks of working in an agency is that no two clients want the same thing. Even so, a few campaigns that professionals have worked on are unusual and distinct. Sometimes the client wants something unique and potentially strange to the agency. One might look at this as just another quirk of the profession, but the true masters see these unusual requests as an ability to learn.

The things you discover from a strange request might come in handy later down the road in another project. Below, 13 contributors to Forbes Agency Council talk about some of the most unique and challenging client campaigns they ever worked on and the valuable lessons they gained from the experience.

Unique Marketing Campaigns

1. Treadmill Running For Leukemia Awareness

A former NGO client wanted to create awareness for leukemia by collaborating with a locally famous runner. After some skepticism, we set up treadmills at a crowded CBD location, asking office workers to join the runner’s quest of completing a marathon on the treadmill — with every mile leading to donations. “Running in your heels is hard? It’s nothing compared to those suffering.” – Lars Voedisch, PRecious Communications

2. Friskies Best Internet Cat Video Competition

The goal was to have Friskies be the driver of an online cat video contest. We hired celebrity judges and crafted a donation program for 25 approved national nonprofits to receive Friskies cat food with each vote cast. We learned that cat owners love making videos, and this was feeding something they enjoy while also empowering Friskies to be front and center with them. – Kathleen Lucente, Red Fan Communications

3. Incontinence Pads Promotion Campaign

Recently, a client came to us asking if we could help promote their incontinence pads utilizing our influencer network. While you might think light bladder leakage is not something women would want to talk about online, it turns out you would be wrong! The content generated was authentic, engaging and even funny (one influencer shared photos of herself jumping on a trampoline). – Danielle Wiley, Sway Group

4. A ‘Blockbuster’ Campaign With A Limited Budget

Our client wanted us to compete with top dollar spenders with, only 2% of the total budget that the competitors were spending! To the client, this new campaign idea made the most sense in the world, hence the nickname “Blockbuster.” We learned to be resourceful, and my team ended up doing very little with their normal routines. We made sure they found a way; no stone was left unturned. – Zohaib Hassan Patoli, SnapWeb Services

5. Rental Apartment Community Campaign

We were asked to create a campaign to market a new rental apartment community targeted to young, single professionals on a tight budget. We didn’t want to just do the typical photos of the complex so we created three “model” tenants — complete with names, careers, etc., to show what life is like at the complex. We were the one that came up with the unusual idea. It was an experiment that worked. – Leeza Hoyt, The Hoyt Organization, Inc.

6. Weather-Based Campaign

Weather can be a driving factor for if people choose to dine out or order in. We ran a unique campaign for a client in the restaurant industry that was based on the weather. We developed digital advertising and social media promotions that offered delivery specials, by geomarket, that were triggered by rainy or cold weather. We found that food delivery thrived in the rain. – Alex Membrillo, Cardinal Digital Marketing

7. Cryptocurrency Exchange Platform

The most interesting, innovative and challenging project we’ve worked on as an agency was a cryptocurrency exchange platform for accredited investors. Specializing in emerging technology and media has given us the opportunities to be on the forefront of continuous learning, exponential opportunities and we never suffer from a dull moment. The level of innovation in the startup space is unprecedented. – Terry Tateossian, Socialfix Media

8. Generating Word-Of-Mouth For Civic Project

A client asked us to generate broad, “organic” support for a civic project. Normal PR tactics were not going to do it, so we delved deep into the world of word-of-mouth marketing and developed an innovative campaign — before the age of social media — that identified influential people and used their networks to create the broad, authentic and obvious support our client wanted. – Jeff Bradford, the Bradford Group

9. Gulfstream’s G700 Launch Show

We love a challenge. When aerospace leader Gulfstream came to us for the launch of their G700 aircraft, they wanted us to hide and then reveal a full-sized business jet — no small task. We came up with the concept and designed and delivered a dazzling live show around the reveal. When we accept these challenges, we learn and grow, and are better positioned for the next one. – Scott Kellner, GPJ Experience Marketing

10. Local Political Campaign

Our first local political campaign for a person running for city council was challenging. We were faced with the ins and outs of dealing with a person who should become a brand that could, over time, garner the support of city residents to vote for them. The difficulty lies in making this person likable to a crowd in a short span of time and training this person to be the brand. – Ally Spinu, USA Link System

11. Cannabis Outdoor Advertising Nationwide

As the cannabis industry keeps growing, we have been approached by our client and asked to develop and execute an outdoor campaign that meets regulatory requirements nationwide. In order to do so, we had to learn how consumers are buying cannabis products and how to advertise by the rules in each state. Lesson learned? Do your research yourself and keep it away from millennials at your agency! – Jonnathan Trilleras, LEDTruckMedia

12. Website For Energy Muse

We’re currently working on a site for a client that is an energy muse. It’s a very niche market but has found that with her techniques she’s able to get people into a new mindset that they haven’t been open to before. We looked at inspiration across a spectrum to find that brand that feels authentic and comfortable to a market that is new to almost all potential buyers. – Lee Salisbury, UnitOneNine

13. Sports Sponsorships

Sports sponsorships are unique branding opportunities for both the client and the fan where the client can really get behind a team they are passionate about. The sports fan will engage with the brand and sponsorship as there will be a mutual understanding that the brand supports the fans favorite team and their passions are aligned leading to stronger engagement. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro,Hawthorne LLC